Judge charged in battery case suspended from bench | Arkansas Blog

Judge charged in battery case suspended from bench

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Cabot District Judge Joe O'Bryan, arrested last Friday night for an alleged drunken assault on his girlfriend, should be suspended from the bench while his misdemeanor case is pending, the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission decided today.

The judge would be paid during the interim suspension. He didn't object to the motion. The recommendation goes to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which should make a decision this week or early next week.

He was charged with third-degree battery after his girlfriend said O'Bryan, 66, had argued with her because he wanted to leave the home while drunk. He grabbed her around the throat and threw her on a kitchen table, she told Lonoke police. Police said she had marks on her chest and neck. Police later found O'Bryan at his home in Cabot. He's scheduled for a court appearance on the domestic battery charge Nov. 3.

Rules of conduct allow interim suspensions when judges are charged in misdemeanor cases. (Note: No action has been taken in the case of Circuit Judge Wade Naramore of Hot Springs, under investigation in the heat-related death of his 18-month-old son, because no charge has been filed. A special prosecutor says that investigation continues.)

Also today, David Sachar, executive director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, confirmed an inquiry from KARK TV that he had been investigating Cross County District Judge Joe Boeckmann of Wynne on allegations that he had used defendants sentenced to community service for personal use. Sachar said he had referred his findings to a local prosecutor, but wouldn't elaborate.

Boeckmann was admonished by the Commission in 2011 over a phone call he made to Wynne police about a person stopped in a vehicle registered to Boeckmann's family farming operation. He asked when the driver would be able to go to work. The letter said:

"Your call made it unclear if you were acting as an attorney, a friend or in your capacity as judge," the letter said. "These actions actions made it difficult for others to determine your role and your authority. In the future you should avoid being involved in similar situations without clarifying your role and interest."

In that case he also was cited for helping return goods stolen by a part-time employee. "This led to a sitting judge handling stolen property, albeit in an effort to turn the property over to authorities," his letter of admonishment said. 

More details are to come from KARK's Marci Manley. The judge was in court when I called his law office.


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